I made a deal with the devil in order to get my hands on a review copy of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. Except this devil’s name is Adrian and he is our editor-in-chief, and rather than taking souls he just solicits reviews in exchange, thankfully. Many thanks to Tor for sending us an eArc via NetGalley and not asking for any souls in exchange either.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of the most wonderful, thought-provoking and heartbreaking books I have ever read, I am fully in love with it, and still processing my absolute race through what has immediately become one of my all-time favourites. It is no secret that I love most of what V. E. Schwab has written, but The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is in a whole other class from Vengeful and A Conjuring of Light again. The prose is beautiful and immersive, full of haunting quotes such as these:
“She has the sense that they would have been friends. If he’d remembered. She tries not to think about that – she swears sometimes her memory runs forward as well as back, unspooling to show the roads she’ll never get to travel.”
“Time – how often has she heard it described as sand within a glass, steady, constant. But that is a lie, because she can feel it quicken, crashing toward her.”
This is a character-driven story, focused on Addie and her life through the centuries. Born in France in the 1700s, she was afraid of living a life that was not her own and ended up making a deal with a mysterious creature, bargaining away more than she thought. While her life was her own for as long as she wanted it, no one would remember her. Not her family, not landlords or store clerks, and certainly not the people she slept with. Until she meets Henry, a bookseller, who seems to remember her when she steals a book from his store – oops.
Through these two characters, V.E. Schwab manages to explore nuances of loneliness in human society in a poignant way, re-evaluating what it means to be seen and remembered, and how it affects the way we perceive ourselves and move through life. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a slow story, taking its time to explore the repercussions of events and the impact of small moments on the characters more than most books we tend to review on here. But that doesn’t mean it is any less compelling and dark – you have your looming antagonist, your morally grey characters and your world working against the heroes.
I do think this is one of those books that have a kind of universal appeal, that people who only read the bitterest of Grimdark will find something in just as much as people who don’t really read any fantasy at all. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a very special book about what it means to be human and to grow.
Read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab